Prep Preview: Sunbelt League
SUNBELT LEAGUE PREVIEW
(Records for last season in parenthesis)
Teams that run the ball. That’s this league. To wit: The best squad the last two seasons — Menifee Heritage — has a D1 quarterback who attempts fewer than 10 passes per game. These schools leave their opponents bruised, and it’s never the most attractive game but it has been effective. Except last season, when they jumped from the Eastern Division to the Inland Division and couldn’t get a team out of the semifinals.
Menifee Heritage (12-1 overall, 5-0 Sunbelt League) looked on its way to another CIF-Southern Section title but were stymied by Riverside Poly, a more balanced team, in the semifinals. How far can QB Brett Virgil, committed to Army, forcibly will the Patriots this season?
Elsinore (9-3, 4-1) emerged a challenger in the CIF-SS Inland Division last season — losing to eventual champ Redlands East Valley by just six points in the QFs — but gave up a lot of talent to graduation.
Menifee Paloma Valley (6-6, 3-2) had some good wins and some bad losses last season. Let’s not get into it. Instead, let’s focus on the talent that returns this year — including a elite senior QB-RB tandem.
Lake Elsinore Temescal Canyon (3-7, 2-3) has yet to find stability at the head coaching position, and will have its fourth leader in four years when Phil Cohen steps on the sidelines to start the season.
Perris (6-4, 1-4) won its first five games of last season, but managed just one win — vs. Lakeside — in league play. QB Carlevon Manuel will have to shoulder the load if the Panthers contend for a playoff spot.
Lake Elsinore Lakeside (2-8, 0-5) suffered through another losing season and will restart with new coach Chris Bonta at the helm and a pair of 300-pound tackles to run behind.
PROJECTED ORDER OF FINISH:
Menifee Paloma Valley
Lake Elsinore Temescal Canyon
Lake Elsinore Lakeside
PLAYERS TO WATCH:
T Ben Alcala, Sr., Lakeside
CB/RB Justin Davis, Sr., Elsinore
QB/DB Justin Gomez, Sr., Temescal Canyon
TE/MLB Andres Hermosillo, Sr., Elsinore
QB/LB Raine Pohaku Kaheaku-Paiva, Sr., Paloma Valley
QB Carlevon Manuel, Sr., Perris
RB/OLB DeMarco Prewitt, Sr., Paloma Valley
RB/DB Jazzdon Stewart, Sr., Lakeside
QB/DB Brett Virgil, Sr., Heritage
Oct. 16 — Elsinore at Paloma Valley, 7 p.m.
Oct. 30 — Heritage at Paloma Valley, 7 p.m.
Nov. 6 –Elsinore at Perris, 7 p.m.